Foolproof "Poor Student's" Pasta

By Regina Novickis  •  September 13, 2013

Domestic goddess in the kitchen, I am not. While I enjoy being a sous chef during the creation of a meal, the thought of being fully responsible for a meal for others to enjoy makes me break out in a sweat. But time and again, this foolproof, budget-friendly dish has won over even the most discerning palettes.


I give credit for this recipe to my three Italian roommates with whom I lived during a year abroad studying in Venice, Italy. Learning the language came easily for me – my dismay showed up when I realized that I was now not only responsible for creating my own meals three times a day, but I also had to do so on a very tight budget. Eleonara, Riccardo and Ricki quickly showed me the ropes, creating some of the best meal’s I’ve ever eaten with just a few simple, inexpensive ingredients in our tiny, Venice-apartment-sized kitchen. This one is a favorite that has stuck with me through the years, is often requested by my friends today, and won’t cost you more than $10 to easily feed a family of four:


Ingredients (the best part about this meal is that you can improvise – you really can’t go wrong – use ingredients to your liking):


Olive Oil

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and pepper

Red Pepper

Cherry or grape tomatoes

Packaged tomato and basil sauce of your choice (use this to “cheat” when you don’t really want to do any cooking – just use this with the tuna and cooked pasta for a fast and easy meal)

Canned tuna in olive oil (the olive oil is what gives it its flavor – don’t try to use the kind canned in water!)

1 pound box pasta (favorite shapes for this pasta are penne, rigatoni or medium shells)




1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes to your liking of spiciness. Cook over low heat until tomatoes are softened (about 6-8 minutes). Add in the tuna and you can either leave the sauce as is, or add some packaged tomato and basil sauce to the mix.

2. In the meantime, in a large pot of boiling, SALTED water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the tuna sauce, stir, and enjoy!


Want to dress up the meal a bit? Here are some of my favorite ways to save on dressing up the table:

Crate and Barrel is offering 20% off select All-Clad cookware. is giving 10% off.


Also save 15% on orders at Pottery Barn, Kohl’s, and jcpenney for all your dinnerware needs and more!


Pottery Barn






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Regina Novickis Regina Novickis Regina Novickis is a savings expert with a passion for helping people make easy money decisions without drastically altering their lifestyle.


Riccardo, Ricky,  September 13, 2013

Beautifull pasta!!!

Riccardo, Ricky,  September 13, 2013

Beautifull pasta!!!

Aimee Tyo,  September 13, 2013

I love when you make me this, Regina Novickis. It's delicious and an all time favorite. Thank you for the reminder!

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